KZNPO packs city hall

2007-12-11 00:00

CHRISTMAS arrived in the city last Thursday evening when the KZNPO came for their second visit sponsored by Music Revival and Parklane Spar. They seem to have cracked the code for success, as the city hall was packed — a sight worth seeing in itself.

The Christmas Cracker Concert offered a mixture of delights — some more obviously Christmassy than others. Leroy Anderson’s Christmas

Festival Overture followed by excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite got things off to a festive start and then Christopher Duigan played Tchaikovsky’s rousing Piano Concerto No.1 to send the punters off to the interval in a cheerful mood. The organisers have realised that concert-goers in the city hall don’t want what used to be on offer — lukewarm tea or coke in a styrofoam cup — and there was complimentary sparkling wine or fruit juice and a cash bar for anything else. It’s all a case of getting the ambience right.

Federico Freschi acted as compere for the evening, only appearing in his more usual soloist’s role to sing O Holy Night. Carol Trench and the Evan Roberts Trio dominated the second part, which was a slightly uneasy mix of the sacred and the secular — and a few brave souls in the orchestra wore their Father Christmas hats. But wonderful though the city hall is, it is not an easy venue for establishing an intimate relationship between stage and auditorium, which is what is needed if a cabaret-style atmosphere is to be realised.

But never mind. The project to bring the provincial orchestra back to the provincial capital and to bring the city hall back to the centre of city life has got off to an impressive start, with plenty more to come next year. A lot of hard work has gone into it, particularly from Chris Hodgkins and he deserves thanks from everyone for both his energy and his vision. As long as the support keeps coming, he is set to carry on.

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